No, we are not talking about the condiments mustard, ketchup and relish. In this article we will be looking at a variety of vegetable greens…mustard, collards, kale and Swiss chard. Greens are a Southern tradition – and superstitiously thought to bring good luck for the upcoming year when eaten on New Year’s Day. However, they are wonderful to eat all autumn/winter long.
Dark green leafy vegetables are good sources of many vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay healthy, such as vitamins A, C, and K, Folate, Iron and Calcium. They are also great sources of fiber. Research suggests that the nutrients found in dark green vegetables may prevent certain types of cancers and promote heart health.
Types of Greens
- Mustard Greens have a peppery flavor and are delicious when eaten raw in salads or in stir-fries and soups. Mustard greens are the highest in folate of the vegetable greens. This plant produces the brown seeds that are used to make Dijon mustard.
- Collard Greens have a mild flavor and are especially rich in Calcium. The best way to prepare them is to boil them briefly and then add to a soup or stir-fry. You can also eat collard greens as a side dish. Just add your favorite seasoning and enjoy!
- Kale has a slightly bitter, cabbage-like flavor and is the richest in vitamin A out of the vegetable greens. Kale is tasty when added to soups, stir-fries, and sauces. It is a favorite in the southern United States where, like many cooking greens, it has been considered a poor man’s food.
- Swiss Chard tastes similar to spinach and has a sweet yet slightly bitter flavor (similar to beets), and has large green leaves with ribs running throughout. It is best stir-fried or eaten raw in salads. Its popular name stems from the fact that a Swiss botanist determined the plant’s scientific name.
When storing fresh greens, they should be stored in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. However, they only last a few days; quickly becoming faded, dry and yellow. In preparing greens for eating, you should first remove any wilted or yellow leaves. Next, dunk greens into a bowl of tepid water a few times to clean. Drain and use a salad spinner to dry greens for use in salads. For use in cooking, it is not necessary to completely dry leaves.
- Wrap it up: Make a wrap with tuna, chicken, or turkey and add leafy greens and other veggies for some extra flavor.
- Add to a soup: Try mixing leafy greens such as collard greens, kale or mustard greens into your favorite soup.
- Stir-fry: Add chopped leafy greens or broccoli to your stir-fry. Chicken or tofu stir-fried with olive or canola oil and your favorite dark green vegetable is delicious!
- Steam it: For something new; steam collard greens or kale. Add water to a pot and place a steamer with the vegetables into it. Next, bring the water to a simmer, cover with a lid, and wait a few minutes until your vegetables are slightly soft.
Recipe: Grits and Greens Casserole
- 4 slices bacon, chopped (optional)
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth, divided
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 16 cups chopped collard greens or kale, stems removed (about 1 large bunch, 1.5-2 pounds)
- 2 cups water, plus more as needed
- 1 cup grits (not instant)
- 3/4 cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
- 1/4 cup prepared salsa
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat an 8-inch-square baking dish with cooking spray.
- Place bacon (if using) in a large Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until crispy, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Pour off the bacon fat.
- Return the pot to medium-low heat; add oil, onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant and starting to brown in spots, 2 to 8 minutes (cooking time will be quicker if you started with bacon). Add 1 cup broth and salt; bring to a boil over high heat. Add collards (or kale); stir until wilted down to about one-third the volume and bright green, 1 to 2 minutes. Cover; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender, 18 to 20 minutes. Adjust heat during cooking to maintain a simmer, and add some water, 1/4 cup at a time, if the pan seems dry.
- Meanwhile, bring 2 cups water and the remaining 1 cup broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Pour in grits in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, whisking often, until thick, about 5 minutes. Combine 1/2 cup cheese, salsa and egg in a small bowl. Remove the grits from the heat and quickly stir in the cheese mixture until combined.
- Working quickly, spread about half the grits in the prepared baking dish. Top with greens, spreading evenly. Spread the remaining grits over the greens. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese and the reserved bacon (if using).
- Bake the casserole until hot and bubbling, about 20 minutes. Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.
**You can omit the bacon and use vegetable broth to make it a vegetarian dish.
Nutrition per serving: (makes 6 servings, 1 cup each) 226 calories; 8 g fat; 50 mg cholesterol; 31 g carbohydrates; 11 g protein; 4 g fiber; 473 mg sodium